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(Photo courtesy of Rowdy Hall)

The resurgence of rye is so very welcome for whiskey lovers who like the little savory-spicy side of sipping. For whiskey newbies: Whiskey is a broad category covering a multitude of grain and corn-based aged spirits—bourbon, Irish, Scotch, Japanese, Canadian and, yes, rye. All of these things are whiskey (or whisky, depending on where it comes from). But rye, like bourbon, has a distinct history in this country.

“When the colonist were here, they were making rye because that’s what was accessible,” says Emmett Boone, co-owner with Liz Cantrell of 6 Corners Fine Wines & Spirits in Westhampton Beach. What is rye, exactly? Pretty much what it suggests: By federal law in the United States, a rye whiskey must be a minimum of 51 percent rye; the rest can be other cereal grains, like corn, malted barley, wheat. The more rye in the whiskey, the more the taste reflects the main ingredient.

“More rye definitely gives a much spicier flavor profile, and it’s great in cocktails such as the Manhattan where the spice plays well with the drink’s sweet vermouth and bitters,” says Boone.

The folks at Rowdy Hall agree, using rye as their favorite whiskey in the renowned classic cocktail. Their choice: Michter’s No. 1 straight rye whiskey (which Boone and Cantwell sell in their lovely little shop at 166 Mill Road). The term “straight” means it’s been stored and aged in one barrel for a minimum of two years. In Michter’s case, each bottle is filled from only one barrel, too. Once that barrel’s gone, it’s onto the next, and so on, which means, in essence, you’re really getting a moment captured in time. Of course, there are many wonderful rye whiskeys to explore, both locally and further afield, and we highly encourage you to do so.

Or, just head on over to Rowdy Hall in East Hampton tonight and have the nice folks there make you one.

Classic Rye Manhattan

Prep Time 2 minutes
Serves 1 cocktail


  • 2 oz Michter's No. 1 straight rye
  • 1 oz Method Spirits sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 brandied cherry


  • In a mixing glass filled with ice, pour in the rye, vermouth and bitters.
  • Stir for about 20 to 30 second, or until well-chilled.
  • Strain into a coupe, martini or Nick & Nora glass.
  • Garnish with the brandied cherry. Cheers!